Beavers, North America's largest rodent, are second only to humans in their ability to engineer and alter landscapes. The wetland ecosystems beavers create benefit surrounding areas by raising water tables, replenishing aquifers, and creating environments where many different species thrive. Beavers mate for life and raise their young, known as kits, in their underwater lodges.
These rodents are usually about 2 to 3 feet (nearly 1 m) long, with small eyes, water-repellent brown fur, and a wide, flat tail that enables them to swim gracefully in the water. Although their squat bodies waddle awkwardly on land, they are powerful swimmers and can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes. Beavers also possess a set of large, powerful teeth that they use to gnaw away at trees and branches in order to construct habitats and gather food such as leaves, bark, roots, and aquatic plants.
More information on what a beaver looks like.
Aquatic creatures, beavers thrive year-round in wooded areas near streams, rivers, ponds, and marshes. In order to create a suitable living space, beavers have the capacity to transform low-lying areas into flourishing wetlands by damming streams and rivers. Once a shallow valley or field is flooded with water, beavers set about constructing a lodge made of sticks and mud in the middle of the pond. These dome-like structures are accessible only from underneath the water and provide shelter for several generations of beaver families. Beavers can also burrow into riverbanks to create suitable living spaces.
Are beavers known to enter homes or yards?
Beavers do not enter houses or buildings, but they may cause problems in residential yards and timber industry operations by damaging trees. Low-lying agricultural areas and roads may also be subject to flooding if nuisance beavers dam nearby streams, drainage pipes, or culverts.
Do beavers harm people or property?
Although beavers have sharp, powerful teeth, they do not attack humans or directly cause destruction to buildings. Tree damage caused by beavers can be readily identified by large, knife-like cuts and gashes at the base of a tree's trunk. The felling of trees and shrubbery not only affects the ornamental shade trees of residential homes, but is estimated to cost the commercial timber industry millions of dollars in damages each year. Likewise, farmers can find their low-lying fields flooded due to beaver activity. In some cases, beavers contaminate water sources with zoonotic diseases or parasites such as giardiasis.
Control and Safety
Throughout most of North America, beavers hold a protected status as fur-bearing animals. Once brought to the precipice of extinction by rampant hunting and trapping, beavers may now only be trapped or killed during specified fur-trapping seasons. Troublesome beavers causing damage to property may be eradicated outside of trapping season with the authorization of local wildlife agencies.
Trapping and Removal
Several methods exist for controlling and removing beavers. In most states, it is illegal to destroy or disturb established beaver lodges and dams since the wetlands they create are vital to local ecosystems. In order to manage established beaver populations, drainage systems may be constructed with the assistance of conservation specialists to control the water level. Employing traps to remove problematic beavers is the most effective method. However, traps must be set by experts, such as Critter Control Beaver Specialists, at the underwater entrances of beaver lodges.
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